BAE Systems writes a new page in aviation history by developing the first aircraft that uses supersonic air jets instead of the classic "flaps" to provide direction.
With its first takeoff over Llanbedr's Campovolo in Gwynedd, Scotland, the “Magma” drone shows the first steps of a technology that could revolutionize the design of airplanes.
The current situation
Today, conventional aircraft are prey to a complex system of flaps, ailerons, elevators, rudders and other control surfaces that serve to fly in directions other than the straight one.
After more than a century of development, it is a component that has evolved very little, continues to be inefficient and involve the presence of too many mechanical parts subject to wear.
The BAE project in collaboration with the British government and the University of Manchester replaces all these elements with "simple" air jet technology that controls the aircraft's direction.
The type of action includes two different systems: a "Circulation control on the wing" which is based on a jet of air in a special duct that acts as aileron, and a "Thrust fluid vector" that deflects a part of the air expelled by the turbines inside the nozzles to change the positioning of the aircraft.
Taken as a whole, “Magma technology” has the potential to improve both the control and performance of aircraft that would be lighter, cheaper and more reliable. More: with fewer moving parts, the shapes of the aircraft would allow greater “invisibility” to radars.
"We are thrilled to be part of the greatest effort to change the way aircraft will be moved and controlled by developing the most innovative solutions since the birth of the Wright Brothers mobile wing," says Bill Crowther, leader of the Magma project at the University of Manchester.
“The partnership with BAE Systems has allowed us to focus on research, leaving the industrial application to them. 20 years ago we developed the first prototype with two glued pieces of plastic and a hair dryer to test them. Today the components are made of titanium, are 3D printed and tested directly on systems in flight. We couldn't ask for anything better ”.